If Trump questions the election results, Democrats are ready to fight

(Reuters) – Democrats are trying their best to protect voters to stick to what Joe Biden called his biggest fear: the possibility that President Donald Trump might try to interfere with the November 3 election or refuse to accept his Outcome.

FILE PHOTO: A volunteer polling place worker at the Edmondson Westside High School polling place sanitizes a written voting station after it was used during the special elections for the 7th seat of the Congressional district of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, April 28, 2020. REUTERS / Tom Brenner / File Photo

Interviews with more than a dozen party officials reveal how Democrats, in coordination with Biden’s presidential campaign, are gearing up for absentee ballot fights, possible vote counts, and the possibility that Republican Trump supporters will seek intimidate voters at the ballot box.

The Democratic Party has hired voter protection directors in 19 key states to run more comprehensive operations than in past cycles and filed a record number of lawsuits before the election to facilitate voting. Thousands of election observers and lawyers will be mobilized across the country on election day, officials told Reuters.

Republicans say that while they are routinely preparing for ballot counts and irregularities, they are more focused on fighting efforts to expand voting by mail.

Trump has questioned the legitimacy of mail ballots, which have been used in far greater numbers in primary elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has also made unsubstantiated allegations that the vote will be rigged and has declined to say he would accept the official election results if he loses.

A person briefed by the Biden campaign on his strategy told Reuters that the former vice president’s staff was preparing for a “nightmare scenario” in which Trump leads in-person vote counting in the battlefield states at night. of the elections, but complains that the contest is being stolen. from him in the following days as mail-in ballots are counted.

A party official in a battlefield state who asked not to be identified said the campaign was quietly coordinating a legal strategy with party staff at the state level for post-election scenarios, such as the Bush v. Recount. Gore from 2000.

Trump is “laying the groundwork to say: ‘The election was stolen, there was fraud, we are going to court, we are going to call people to the streets,'” said Mark Brewer, an election attorney who is helping to train Democratic legal volunteers in Michigan. “The guy is capable of anything, so we have to plan everything.”

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Democrats were trying to undermine the integrity of the election with efforts that could lead to fraud.

“In a free and fair election, President Trump will win,” said Murtaugh.

The state-level Democratic official said that Bob Bauer, a former Obama administration attorney now active in the Biden campaign, and Marc Elias, a leading attorney for voting and counting rights, were “part of contingency planning” .

The official did not provide details, explaining that the Democrats did not want to filter his playbook or unnecessarily conjure up the specter of a contested election.

Bauer and Elias did not respond to requests for interviews.

Phil Shulman, spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said: “Our attorneys and DNC attorneys are fully prepared and at least mentally prepared for a scenario where they have to go to court and fight.”

Biden campaign officials and the Democratic National Committee also declined to discuss plans around a disputed election.

“We have designed a comprehensive voter protection program with the best lawyers in the country working to address all possible contingencies and ensure that the November elections run smoothly,” said Rachana Desai Martin, national director of voter protection for the campaign. from Biden.


Democrats say their biggest focus is to protect against what they hope will be a significant effort of voter crackdown by Republicans.

Party officials in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump narrowly won in 2016 and which Biden now leads in opinion polls, are planning solid efforts to look at the polls.

In Michigan alone, the Biden campaign is working with the state party to activate thousands of volunteers, many of them attorneys, with the goal of monitoring each polling place.

Democrats say their increased emphasis on poll monitoring is fueled by uncertainty about new Michigan rules that allow each voter to cast a vote by mail, which Trump opposes, as well as the expiration of the 1982 national decree. designed to prevent Republicans from clamping down on votes.

That decision, imposed after complaints of misconduct in past elections, required Republicans to obtain court approval before they could conduct poll monitoring activities in minority precincts.

A senior Trump campaign official told Reuters that the lifting of the decree in 2018 was “a real radical change” and would allow Republicans to try to meet their goal of deploying 50,000 volunteer monitors, primarily in battlefield states.

Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said she expected to hear more reports of Trump supporters walking near voting sites with guns.

“That’s the kind of thing that is clearly designed to be intimidating,” he said.

Although Democrats have generally not monitored polls to nominate contests, they plan to use the Michigan primaries on August 4 as a trial for the November general election, said Mary Ellen Gurewitz, a lawyer for the Biden campaign.

“I am working with a group of electoral attorneys to try to prepare myself, and that means so much more this year than it ever has,” said Gurewitz.

The Republican Party’s legal efforts are focused on preventing some states from mailing ballots to all registered voters. The party is also seeking to derail efforts to allow for increased ballot collection, which is when one person collects and sends multiple ballots.

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“The system is not ready for these changes and will be overwhelmed, leading to many problems,” said a Republican official involved in the party’s efforts.

Dana Remus, general counsel for the Biden campaign, said Democrats would be ready if Republicans fight dirty.

“We will not let your legal strategies determine these elections,” he told a campaign fundraiser last week.

Report by Michael Martina; Additional reports by Jarrett Renshaw, Tim Reid and Trevor Hunnicutt; Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney edition

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